THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Vocations are the Key to the Sacramental Door
By Bishop James R. Golka
He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick].” – Luke 9:1-2
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is common for a bishop during liturgies to wear the “miter,” or ceremonial headdress. The miter is a symbol of authority. It is important to note that this authority does not mean, “I am your boss, and you do what I say.” It is a much better authority than that. This is the authority that Jesus gave the apostles and the Church (that is us!) to act in his name. This means that when we celebrate the sacraments we are not playacting or doing something “merely symbolic.” The sacraments are the most “real” things we can do. Christ promised that he will be present and will act in and through the sacramental activity of the Church. For many of us the sacraments are what keep us committed to our Catholic faith. Through the miracle of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ took on physical flesh and dwelt among us. Knowing that he would one day ascend into Heaven, he left behind physical means of encountering his Grace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) tells us, “The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us” (CCC, No. 1131).
A few obvious examples of the tangible, physical means the Church employs to cooperate in the effective transmission of God’s grace are the water of baptism, the oil of confirmation, and the bread and wine of the eucharistic celebration.
What does this brief review of a portion of the sacraments have to do with the upcoming Vocations Awareness Week? Without our priests, our sacramental life ultimately dries up.
As we journey through the ongoing Eucharistic Revival, it is worth reflecting on the importance of the sacraments in general and the Eucharist in particular. Quoting the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, known as “Lumen Gentium,” the Catechism reminds us of the importance of the Eucharistic sacrament in particular: “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it” (CCC, No. 1324).
We are called to recognize the Eucharist as the beginning, the source, and the high point, the summit, of our Christian life. The sacramental connection to vocations is now readily apparent: no priests, no Eucharist. No Eucharist, no “source and summit.”
This year, we have six new men who have entered seminary formation in preparation for the priesthood. They join the other 11 men already in formation, giving us a total of 17 seminarians. What a blessing for our diocese! Yet our work in promoting priestly vocations is just getting started.
What can we do here in our diocese to ensure ready access to the sacraments by promoting and encouraging priestly vocations? The first and obvious answer is we must pray without ceasing! We might also consider specific forms of prayer.
A study conducted earlier this year by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) reported that a significant majority of men scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in 2023 shared that their two most common pre-seminary prayer practices were Eucharistic adoration and the rosary. What can we do? We can encounter Jesus in eucharistic adoration, pray the rosary, and encourage our young men who may be called to the priesthood to do the same.
The focus here is on the priestly vocation and ensuring the Catholics we are privileged to serve have access to the sacraments. There are, of course, other vocational calls. There are men called to be permanent deacons, men and women called to religious life, women called to consecrated virginity as well as vocations appropriate to the laity (marriage and single life). The common thread for all of these calls, and the discernment that follows, is prayer.
If you are prayerfully discerning a call to the priesthood, please reach out to our Director of Vocations, Father Kyle Ingels (firstname.lastname@example.org). Men discerning the call to the permanent diaconate are encouraged to speak to the Director of the Permanent Diaconate, Deacon Dan Tomich (email@example.com). Women discerning the call to religious life will find a listening ear and supportive guidance from several orders of sisters and nuns in our diocese, and more information is available from Sister Quynh Pham (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, parents play a crucial role in creating a supportive environment in the home where their children can discern God’s plans for them. Pray for your children that they may discern God’s will, tell them you are praying for them, and help them to pray and listen as well.
For those of you discerning, and for those of you praying for “laborers for the harvest,” we should approach Jesus Christ with faith, hope and humility; and let us also approach each other with humility, charity and joy. Perhaps the greatest resource for drawing others to committing their life to Christ is sharing the joy we feel when we ourselves are drawn to Jesus Christ.
For more information on seminarian recruitment and formation in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, please see the Herald’s special Vocations Awareness Week section on pages 7-9.